Field Tested: Kenda Klever RT

In May of 2019, I purchased a 1998 Mitsubishi Montero Winter Package. I knew I wanted the Montero to be a vehicle that would allow me to tackle many miles of on-road driving, help progress my driving skills off-road, and allow me to conquer my goals of international travel. As I looked to outfit the vehicle, I sought a tire that would enable me to do everything I set out to accomplish. With a big list of trips ahead of me in the next year, Kenda asked me to review and test their Klever R/T tire. 

About the Tire

The Klever R/T KR601 is Kenda’s answer to an ever-growing hybrid or R/T category of off-road tires, which aim to balance the aggressive characteristics of M/T tires while maintaining the road comfort of an A/T. The Klever R/T is designed to tackle any obstacle while reducing the dreaded road noise associated with M/T tires. The R/T features Kenda’s all-weather compound, 3-ply, triple-threat sidewall, and M+S rating.

Performance

I love the look and off-road performance of an M/T, but since the Montero is my daily driver, I needed something quiet enough to make long trips bearable, and the R/T has fit the bill. It’s comfortable cruising at 65 mph, without excessive noise or vibration, and has predictable tracking with little wandering. The tire’s impact on fuel economy is minimal, thanks to a weight of 59.96 pounds for a 285/70/17, which is on the lighter end of 10-ply tires. In wet weather, a traditionally difficult condition for aggressive off-road tires, the KR601 left me pleasantly surprised with its ability to grip the road and perform under hard braking and cornering. A vital trait, given that I live in the Pacific Northwest. 

While quite satisfied with the tires’ on-road performance, I have been even more pleased with the Klever R/T’s performance off pavement. The same confidence I experienced on the pavement has quickly translated to peace of mind and favorable ride quality on the dirt. Since mounting the R/Ts, they have seen just about every condition possible in North America, taking on Oregon’s sand dunes, muddy two-tracks, rocky trails, and unexpected snowstorms. Through each situation, the tires have not only demonstrated their ability to grip the terrain, but also their capacity to continue gripping it as they clean out mud, sand, and snow from between the tread-voids with each rotation. Unfortunately, they did not clear stones and gravel from between the tread blocks with equal ease, a fact that becomes apparent through the clicking of rock on tarmac when transitioning back to pavement. 

The aggressive 3-ply, triple-threat sidewall proved itself when crawling amidst a stretch of Central Oregon lava rock on trails earlier this summer. It has been a major confidence boost knowing they can hold up against the roughest terrain thrown at them.

Amidst the overall good I found in this set of tires, Kenda’s lack of sizing options may deter some. Right now, available sizes range from 29-35 inches, but sizing options for 15- and 16-inch rim sizes are missing. In today’s market, adding 35+ inch options for smaller wheels would be something to consider in the future. I hope to see Kenda expand their retailer base, much like their sizing options for this tire in 2020.

Longevity has been favorable thus far, with successful balancing of the tires at each rotation, but as I write this review I have begun to notice a slight vibration beginning to develop at highway speeds.

Conclusions

Overall, I have been nothing short of pleased with the Kenda Klever R/T. Seeing this tire’s ability to perform in every condition is a testament to the exceptional tire their team has designed. The aggressive characteristics and well-mannered on-road performance have won me over, especially when combined with the R/T’s biggest benefit, its balance of performance with price. At $198 per tire for a 285/70/17, it’s easily one of the most affordable tire on the market, and offers a value that’s hard to beat.

To learn more, visit the Kenda tire website here.


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